Tucked away in museums displaying and storing collections of dress and textiles there is often a subsidiary but significant collection of printed ephemera. This might encompass bills, trade cards, paper carrier bags, fashion plates and dressmaking patterns.
A stitch up is a devious act that someone does to someone else. It may involve putting a person or organization, perhaps, in a position where they will be blamed for something they did not do or it might mean manipulating a situation, in unseen ways, to one’s own advantage.
Household goods piled along curbs with hand-lettered signs saying ‘free’; never-worn clothing hanging in closets, price tags still in place; vacated college dormitory rooms filled with abandoned throw rugs, hair dryers, bookcases; consultants who help us simplify our lives by getting rid of ‘stuff.’ This is the world of things that many Americans inhabit today.
The lower levels of 19th-century society have received increasing amounts of attention from historians, and while their clothing is very nearly always mentioned (at least in passing) Vivienne Richmond rightly notes the individual and collective meanings of this clothing are rarely discussed or analysed.(1) It is an omission which, in Clothing the Poor in Nineteenth
The study of fashion is acknowledged to require a composite methodology. Daniel Roche, in his influential The Culture of Clothing: Dress and Fashion in the ‘ancien régime’ (1) put forward five headings under which dress could be interrogated: the artefact, textiles, pictorial representation, social and economic sources, and philological sources.
In between small model spitfires and Sherman tank key rings, visitors browsing the shelves of the Imperial War Museum’s gift shop will find their gaze met by the reassuringly familiar smile of a round-faced rag doll, beaming from the side of a tote bag.